The World after the Fall - Chapter 21[Updated at: 2021-01-11 07:15:41]
Chapter 21: World of 1% (1)
There’s a world that you can never reach just by trying.
In <Chaos>, there were outposts that allowed Adapters to rest while hunting. The most famous among them was the Three Palace’s Four Fortress. The four fortresses had considerably easier entry and allowed settlements that a lot of Adapters loved to visit. Gorgon Fortress was one of those four.
‘I should’ve just fought him.’
Jaehwan thought about Karlton reading the law to him.
Jaehwan did not trust anyone who spoke of laws. Even back in his tower, there were a lot who worked in law-related fields.
-All humans within the tower are equal.
They first began creating laws to protect the weak. It seemed reasonable to create laws as the tower was completely divided from the outside world. They made many laws and some even seemed to protect the weak.
But it was a lie.
The laws became things that only those who made them could understand and people fell prey to the laws that they did not even know about. They had to pay heavy taxes and had to hunt in controlled areas under the guise of ‘protection’. They were also only allowed to acquire weak skills and weapons.
The laws that worked considering all humans as equal had succumbed to skills, status, items, and levels.
The laws were weak against the strong, vicious against the weak, and became complicated to keep in place. When the tower was at its limit because of the society that the laws had created, the ones who created those laws disappeared into the past. They were abandoned.
Jaehwan made one law after the 85th floor.
All ‘humans’ live today.
That was the law he had been following all this time.
‘Anyway, this place is too complicated.’
Jaehwan frowned. He also had a burden. Mino still seemed to be dazed. She, however, did follow Jaehwan as he walked. It was annoying to take her with him, but he didn’t feel good to leave her be when she was the first ‘human’ that he had met. Jaehwan decided to walk around until Mino came back to her senses.
He walked through merchants selling various herbs, equipment, and various foods.
“I haven’t seen the castle master recently…”
“I heard he’s sick.”
After a long walk through many merchants, Jaehwan realized he had lost his way. He was now in a back alley of the bazaar. Deep in the alley, people that looked like gangsters were inhaling the ‘medicine’ that Mino took.
‘Where the hell am I?’
Jaehwan activated [Suspicion] and [Understanding]. It was so he could gather any information he heard from his surroundings. However, he ran into a problem. It was his first time visiting such a crowded place. He was bombarded with information and received a headache. That was when he obtained an important piece of information.
“Hey, it’s about time you woke up.”
Mino slowly came back to her senses.
“…why am I here?”
“Don’t ask and lead the way. I’m having a headache.”
Mino looked around and then guided Jaehwan.
“Let’s go that way first.”
As they walked out to the alleyway, they arrived at a big road with fewer people. Jaehwan felt his headache disappearing.
“Good. You can go now.”
“…Don’t you think that’s rude?”
She now remembered everything that had happened. Mino’s face blushed.
“You’re a hindrance.”
Mino shouted, “I was just trying to tease you!”
Mino then felt every strand of her hair rise as Jaehwan glared at her.
It was too much for a simple tease. After all, Jaehwan did save her life. The incident that they had just gone through might not have happened if Mino hadn’t tried to tease him.
“…I’m really sorry.”
Mino looked at Jaehwan, but he did not answer. She waited for an answer, but she realized that Jaehwan always did not answer. She didn’t even know who he was.
The one thing that she knew was that he was a human.
He was the kind to ask, not to answer. He asked if she would go back to the past, and he also asked why would he need the Certificate to prove himself. He asked questions that she had never even thought about.
That was all that Mino knew about Jaehwan.
“Where are you going now?”
“It doesn’t concern you.”
“…tell me anyway.”
Mino looked hurt from such a cold refusal.
“I need to find something.”
“What is it? Maybe I can be of help.”
Jaehwan paused for a second and answered,
It was a name Mino had not heard for a long time. The beings that were called [Creators] in the <Great Lands>. The beginning of every nightmare.
“What are you going to do when you find them?”
Jaehwan did not answer.
Mino thought Jaehwan might actually do that.
“You won’t understand even if I explained.”
Mino opened her mouth to speak, but closed it. She figured asking more questions might anger Jaehwan and she probably wouldn’t understand anyway if she heard the reason.
“…It’s hard to come across even in the <Great Lands>. They never stay in one place either.”
“So, they’re not here?”
“There might be one if you look through <Chaos>. They are one of the few who can enter the Tree of Imagery without dying.”
It was interesting information, but it made sense. The Tower of Nightmares was a part of the Tree. But there was a Demon on the 100th floor. He was sure that these [Cultivators] or [Creators] knew how to access the tree without dying.
“Uh… I can’t guarantee anything. ”
Mino spoke after hesitating for a long time.
“I know a place where a [Nightmare] might be at.”
“Where is that?”
“There’s a blacksmith. The one made by [Nightmare].”
Jaehwan looked at his Frost Dragon Sword. He needed to stop by a blacksmith anyway.
Mino nodded. Carrying around that kind of valuable sword without a scabbard would draw too much attention.
“Shall I lead the way then?”
Jaehwan nodded as he gripped his sword.
“Yeah, but after I beat those that have been following us for a while.”
Jaehwan turned. At the corner, there were the ruffians that were sniffing medicine back in the alleyways. The man who seemed like their leader walked up.
“Leader! It’s him!”
“Haha! We got you now. Bring that sword to…”
As they took out their swords, Jaehwan stabbed with his sword.
The head of their leader turned into white powder and dissolved away.
After a moment, ten ruffians all disappeared into white powder and dispersed.
‘I think there was one hiding that was not a ruffian…’
One was watching him from the top of the structure. He was noticed when Jaehwan used [Suspicion]. Jaehwan also knocked him unconscious while he was dealing with the ruffians. He didn’t kill him because he wasn’t a threat.
Mino spoke in astonishment.
“It’s really amazing every time I see it. How do you manage to do everything by just stabbing?”
“That’s the only skill I have.”
“Aren’t there various types of stabs?”
“Yeah. Slight stab, regular stab, strong stab.”
“…What did you just use?”
“A slight stab.”
The ruffians were strong, considering that they were just fools lingering on the streets. Most were Non-Adapters but a few seemed to be at the 1st stage. However, they were killed by a ‘slight’ stab. Mino remembered when Jaehwan wiped out the Red Fox Clan and asked, “Have you only used ‘slight stab’ until now?”
“No, I used ‘regular stab’ once.”
Mino thought it was when he wiped out the Red Fox Clan, but it wasn’t.
‘I killed that five-horned wolf with ‘regular stab.’
Jaehwan also remembered that he had the horn of that five-horned wolf. It was the strongest enemy he had ever faced after he came to <Chaos>. The wolf did not die even after being struck by multiple ‘slight stabs’. But it was killed in one hit with a ‘regular stab’ anyway.
“…Well, I have seen someone who uses only one skill, like you.”
“Yeah. But he uses ‘slash’.”
An Adapter that only used slash. Jaehwan became interested and was about to ask, but was cut off by the faint sound of metal being hammered from a distance.
It had been a long time since he had heard such a sound. Jaehwan remembered his friend Jay and his blacksmith.
Jaehwan loved hearing the hammering sound from Jay’s Blacksmith as he dived into the Temple’s holy water. It wasn’t music, but it was a calming sound that gave him peace.
Even after Jay disappeared, the memory of that sound stayed in Jaehwan’s mind.
Maybe it was because of the sound that allowed Jaehwan to press on and eventually break through the 100th floor.
“That’s the biggest blacksmith in Gorgon.”
That was the name of the place.
The people of the <Great Lands> had once discussed this topic.
“Who are the best artisans in the Great Lands?”
The best artisans, after a long discussion, were unanimously decided as the [Nightmares]. If Lords were the most powerful beings in the <Great Lands>, [Nightmares] were the best artisans within the <Great Lands>. 500 [Nightmares] that were called [High Artisans], and the 13 [Nightmares] that were called [Master Artisans], were considered the best [Creators] in the <Great Lands>.
<Twilight’s Fall> was a blacksmith shop made by the top-ranking [High Artisan], ‘Ignell of the Deep Fall’.
Jaehwan looked around and nodded in satisfaction. This was a much better quality blacksmith than the one in Atopos. The inside was large and all the tools were top quality. Tens of artisans were working on various projects and the furnace at the center radiated an intense heat.
“So, a [Nightmare] made this place?”
“Then, it might be here.”
One of the Apprentices, who was in charge of talking to customers, came and greeted them. It was a young, healthy-looking man.
“Are you a [Nightmare]?”
The Apprentice frowned at the question. [Nightmare] only meant one person. Mino quickly stepped up to interrupt, “I’m sorry, he’s not really bright on such things.”
“Oh, I see.”
Mino smiled brightly and the pprentice accepted her apology.
[…He’s a human no matter how you look.]
Jaehwan did not answer.
“What brings you here?”
“I came to meet the [Nightmare].”
“…You mean Chief Blacksmith.”
The Apprentice seemed troubled.
“He’s not in his seat right now.”
“Where did he go?”
“Well… he likes visiting various places. Are you here with a request for him?”
Jaehwan thought about it.
“That might be a good idea.”
“If I may ask, what are you trying to ask him to…”
The Apprentice looked at Jaehwan’s scabbard-less sword and shook his head.
“Even if he were here, he wouldn’t accept your request.”
“Why is that?”
The Apprentice looked at Jaehwan and scoffed.
‘So, he really isn’t bright.’
He continued, “His specialty is not making weapons. Maybe you’re not aware, but [Nightmares] specializes in making ‘other’ things.”
Jaehwan wanted to ask what they were, but he realized he knew the answer. It was because he had spent 30 years with those ‘other things’ that they usually made.